Online this Sunday, May 20: Help set the Equal Voice platform!

Excerpted from Equal Voice News:

Nearly 49 million people in America struggle every day to meet the basic needs of their families. They are families that work hard, sometimes two or three jobs that pay the $7.25 minimum wage, and still can’t make ends meet.

Despite their numbers, poor and low-income families in America, their views and their voices, are routinely ignored by those who create the policies that affect their lives.

That’s about to change. 

This Sunday, May 20, Marguerite Casey Foundation and Equal Voice families throughout the country will come together online, in a live webcast, to determine their issues and concerns and vote on the 2012 Equal Voice for America’s Families National Family Platform.

Anyone with an Internet connection can join the convention at

Some of the biggest in-person gatherings will be held in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, in Birmingham, Ala., and in Seattle, Wash. Those three gatherings will be webcast live.

Other large gatherings are planned in California, Illinois, Arizona, Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky. Many more people will meet at coffee shops, community centers and in living rooms across the country. (CCH families will be participating in a gathering at the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.)

During the event, participants anywhere in the country will be able to ask questions and discuss issues by using social media, including their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. Then, they will vote – by mobile-phone text messaging or online via Twitter or Poll Everywhere – on the issues most important to them.

Families will text their votes on issues on May 20 to contribute their voice in updating the 2012 National Family Platform.

Families will text their votes on issues on May 20 to contribute their voice in updating the 2012 National Family Platform.

“We’ve been consumed by the interests of politicians and corporations for too long. It’s time to find our voices and our power by coming together,”  said Jeanette Taylor-Smith, a mother of five in Chicago who works as a parent organizer.

Equal Voice is a network of organizations and families around the country that are working to build a base of families to advocate in their own behalf for policy changes to improve the economic and social well-being of poor and low-income families.

In 2008, some 30,000 families participated in the yearlong Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign, which created – for the first time – a comprehensive platform of values and policy recommendations by and for low-income families.

That time, 65 town hall–style meetings were held in 12 states and 11 languages. Families distilled the vision of a better America into an actionable document: The Equal Voice for America’s Families National Family Platform.

The 2008 issues focused on child care, education, employment, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, housing, health care and safe communities. Some of the policy recommendations made in 2008 have been addressed, but many have not.

And four years ago, few could have imagined the nation’s looming economic crisis.

Even fewer could have anticipated the extent to which the government would bail out failing banks and prop up crumbling corporations, while ignoring families living without electricity or running water, or those without enough food or without health care for their children.

The recession brought record high unemployment, homes lost to foreclosure, blighted neighborhoods when banks refused to care for those homes, and bare shelves at food banks. It helped shift 10 million more people into poverty.

Over the last four years, grassroots organizations have used the Equal Voice national family platform to build civic engagement and to create strong networks in every corner of the country to push for policies that will improve the future for their children.

“Since 2008, many people have looked to the national family platform for information and inspiration,” said Kate Shuster, statewide coordinator for Alabama Organizing Project. She is expecting 300 people to meet at the B&A Warehouse in downtown Birmingham for the Equal Voice online convention.

“Families are joining the 2012 online convention to be part of something bigger than themselves,” she said…

For the full text, go here.